Las Vegas’s Metropolitan Police Department has agreed to open itself up to Justice Department officials, marking the start of a months-long process that could reform how its officers use deadly force and how those incidents are investigated, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is expected to look at 20 years of shootings by Las Vegas officers, review the department’s policies and procedures, and interview officers and civilians.
The COPS office is not working with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which does have the ability to mandate reforms. Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said bringing an independent set of eyes to scrutinize officer-involved shootings will strengthen the department, which saw its officers shoot and kill 12 people last year, a record for one year by the agency. The department has had two police shootings this year, both this week. One person, who shot and wounded an officer, died. The review is unique, and could lead to a national clearinghouse of “best practices” for officer-involved shootings, related policies and investigative procedures, said COPS Director Bernard Melekian.